By Nick Lakoff – Certified Massage Therapist ©2017
About 15 years ago I had the unique and privileged opportunity to massage one of my clients during her first labour.
Rogina was a client I first met when I was starting out my massage career. She had booked a massage with me when I worked at an esthetician’s clinic and she followed me as I moved from one place to another until eventually I opened my own massage therapy centre. Along the way I also met and massaged her husband. At some point they got pregnant and she started coming for pregnancy massage sessions. Over the course of our sessions we had talked about the benefits of massage and the possibility of getting massage during labour. At the beginning I was under the impression she wanted me to teach her husband Zul some techniques to help through the worst of the contractions. But as it turns out, Rogina was thinking about having me come and massage her during her labour. Even though I had never done it and there really weren’t many prior examples at the time for having massage therapists present during labour in a maternity ward in Canada (or the US as a matter of fact), I eagerly accepted the challenge.
The tricky part of course was the timing, when would her water break? Seeing as Mother Nature never really gives you a timetable for when this will happen, we decided to play it by ear and I told her to call me anytime day or night and I would come to the hospital as soon as possible. As it turns out he water broke during the night but she didn’t call me till late morning asking if I could come to the hospital. The pain she was in was considerable now but she hadn’t gotten to 6 cm which is what her doctor felt would be the minimum dilation she wanted to see before considering giving an epidural. Rogina was hoping to avoid doing one but it was still an option should the pain become too much for her.
As I arrived at St-Luc Hospital with my massage chair slung over my shoulder I was told that the maternity ward was closed for renovations and that my client had been given a standard hospital room. As I walked through the halls of the hospitals my large black bag attracted a lot of curious and puzzled looks. I finally got to the right room and Rogina, despite being in substantial discomfort, gave me the biggest smile of relief I’ve ever seen. I surveyed the room which is considerably smaller than the rooms in the maternity ward and decided on the best spot to set up the massage chair. Complicating things was the fact that she had two heart monitors strapped to her belly so nurses could tract the baby’s vitals. Once I figured things out, I got Rogina set up on the chair and started to massage her. The chair ended up being the perfect compromise since I could easily get her in and out of it and could get around it without too much difficulty. The hospital gown gave me easy access to her back to do my work. Over the next four hours I massaged her nearly continually especially during the worst of her contractions. Finally she was dilated enough and she and her doctor decided to administer her epidural and it was time for me to pack up and go. After both of them thanking me profusely for having come, I said my goodbyes and wished her the best for the rest of the birthing. I made my way out of the hospital feeling elated and extremely gratified.
Six months passed and I hadn’t heard from either Rogina or Zul which I felt, being new parents, was quite normal. Then they both dropped by my clinic to show me their new baby girl. I was so happy to see them all, especially the little one. At some point Rogina came close to me and thanked me for having been there for her during the labour. Her eyes welled up with tears as she told me she didn’t know how she could have gotten through it without my helping her. I was very touched and humbled seeing this new life I had a small part in helping come into the world. Without a doubt this was one of the most memorable moments of my career as a massage professional!